Living abroad: “We were treading water/sinking slowly in London”

Tired of London’s fast pace, they took their six-year-old twins to travel around Latin America. Two years later, Dominic Chapman and Lindsay Green are still living abroad, homeschooling the twins. They told us all about their travels (and not having plans to return)…

Dominic, 44, and Lindsay, 42, are currently living in Buenos Aires with their eight-year-old twins.

What’s your home like?
We’ve had lots of different homes over the last two years, our current one is probably the strangest so far. It’s small, open-plan (only two doors) and compactly arranged around a central courtyard which has a little swimming pool. The house is arranged over two levels and has a bat pole which the kids use to get from floor 1 to ground level instead of the stairs – needless to say, they love it.

dom and lins 4

What time do you wake up in the morning?
Dominic: Between 6am and 7am- it varies.

Lindsay: 8am.

What wakes you up?
Dominic: The alarm on my phone mostly, other times I tend to wake up naturally between 6 and 7.

Lindsay: Dom with a coffee.

How do you feel?
Dominic: I’m definitely a morning person, so mostly I feel energetic and ready to go.

Lindsay: I’m a night owl so imagine the opposite.

living abroad -

What do you do first thing?
Dominic: Make a bulletproof-type coffee, which we discovered a few months ago. Sounds odd, but really tastes great and gives your day quite a kick start.

How might the rest of your day pan out?
Dominic: Before breakfast, with my coffee in hand, I make a plan for the day, which includes the work that I need to do, meals we are having, plus any shopping and other stuff that needs to be done.

Breakfast is at 8 and school starts at 9:30, which Lindsay takes care of. I’ll work on our website Life Hacks For Kids and most days will go for a run and shop around 12. Then we’ll all have lunch together at 1.

The afternoon is more work on the website, Lindsay does Pilates Tuesday and Thursday and four afternoons a week the kids are looked after, so we can work on the website together.

Dinner is around 7 and the kids are in bed for 8.30ish… then it’s a bit more work and/or a film then bed.

When are you most productive?
Dominic: First thing, and then between breakfast and lunch.

Lindsay: Late at night.

Living abroad…

You left London with your eight-year-old twins to travel Latin America. What inspired this trip?
We kind of accidentally decided to pack in the rat-race. We were treading water/sinking slowly in London. One day we just asked ourselves ‘what are we doing this for?’, we both answered ‘I don’t know’, so at that point we decided to go travelling. Six months later we landed in Mexico.

We had always wanted to spend some more time in Latin America, we’d been to Mexico and Brazil before on holiday and loved them both, so it was a natural choice to come here.

dom and linds 3

Were you concerned about the potential impact of uprooting your kids?
Yes! They were only six when we left so we weren’t hugely worried about school. It was more them missing their friends and not making any new ones with them not knowing the language.

Thankfully, neither of these concerns have proved true, they’ve made friends and kept in touch with those back at home too, so the experience has been a very positive one. They have seen some amazing sights and have had an incredible adventure, which hopefully they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

Should more families do what you’ve done – ignore convention and show their children the world?
We would have to say YES. As a family we’re stronger, we know each other much better and we’re much more relaxed. It’s also been great to really have the time to to see the kids grow and develop.

Where were you each working before leaving the UK?
Dominic: I was a financial adviser.

Lindsay: I worked in TV marketing.

dom and linds 2

How did you manage, financially, while travelling?
We sold a property and get some income from the sale of Dom’s business.

You homeschooled the twins – how did you all find this?
We follow the UK curriculum so Lindsay does a hell of a lot of research and planning. Over the last two years we have found a lot of useful sites that are designed for teachers of homeschoolers.

You’re now running a website: Life Hacks for Kids – why did you set it up, and what’s the aim?
Suddenly being responsible for our children’s education meant that we questioned what we were teaching them and why. We noticed that important life-skills didn’t feature on the curriculum, skills which in many ways determine how successful you are as an adult: confidence, positive attitude, communication skills, determination, entrepreneurial mindset, etc.

We then realised that these skills we actually pick up mostly from our parents, who aren’t necessarily experts. We started to worry about teaching our kids these skills and speaking to other parents, we realised that we weren’t alone, they were worried too. So we decided to do something about it and Life Hacks For Kids was born.

As for the aim, we don’t really have a specific goal, we just want to create an awesome resource so that parents can teach their kids these life-skills like an expert would. 10 years from now 40% of young graduates will come from India and China, the EU and the USA will only contribute 25%.

Employers will be able to connect with and choose from this well-educated global talent pool, within just a few mouse clicks. This means that our children will face more competition for jobs than any generation before them and will need a different set of skills to stand out, which is where we come in.

What’s the plan from here, will you continue to travel or return to the UK?
The plan is to pop back to the UK later this year for a few months to say hello to friends and family, then to go back travelling for another year or so. We really like Buenos Aires and there’s loads of Argentina we haven’t seen yet, but would really like to (Mendoza and Patagonia especially). We also want to see the the countries we haven’t visited yet in South America.

What do you miss about England?
Family and friends… that’s all really. Although being able to get hold of any foodstuff you want from anywhere in the world at the local supermarket is a pretty handy luxury that we used to take for granted.

And what were you glad to leave behind?
The stresses of daily life and the weather.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Somewhere warm and by the sea.

Have you tried living abroad with the kids? How did it work out? Let us know in the comment section below…

(This article was originally published in May 2016)